If Bosnia and Herzegovina can anywhere near replicate their manager – Safet Sušić style as a player, then could the Zmajevi replicate Croatia in 1998 and be the dark horses of the tournament. Safet ‘Pape’ Sušić is remembered as one of the best attacking midfielders of his generation. As Gerd Muller once said:
If you were to rank Safet Sušić with the all-time greats, you would have to put him in at least the top 40.
Born on the 13th April 1955 in Zavidovići, Pape joined his local team FK Krivaja, making his first team debut by the age of 16 before joining Kosevo the youth team of FK Sarajevo in 1972. One year later and Pape was playing for the senior team.
He would stay for nine years, consistently turning in strong performances but with the Yugoslavian League dominated by the Red Star and FK Partizan teams, Hadjuk Split and Dinamo Zagreb, FK Sarajevo found it difficult to break the dominance. In 1978-79 Pape was named player of the season as he was in 1979-80 when as top scorer with 17 goals the Bordo-Bijeli finished runners-up, qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
By now Sušić was a regular in the Yugoslav national team. There may be few who have taken to international football so readily. His debut came on the 05th October 1977, scoring twice against Hungary. A month later he scored a hat-trick as Yugoslavia beat Romania 6-4. Hat-tricks against Italy [4-1 victory] and World Champions Argentina [4-2 victory] followed.
Pape would go on to make 54 appearances and scoring 21 goals until retiring from the national team in 1990. 1993 saw the birth of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a football nation with two ‘humanitarian friendlies’ against club sides K.R.C Genk and 1.FC Kaiserslautern, Pape played in both.
It wasn’t just his artistry on the ball, his vision when passing but his mentality – his will to win and an instinct in front of goal that would shame recognized strikers. His reputation was spreading and after 85 goals in over 220 appearances for Sarajevo he joined Paris Saint- Germain in 1982. In Paris he would become a legend and adored by the fans.
Over the next nine years, Pape [partly due to a great injury free and discipline record] would make nearly 350 appearances for Les Rouge-et-Bleu. In the process he would score 172 goals and make over 60 assists. With Sušić the midfield maestro, PSG retained the Coupe de France in his first season, followed in 1985-86 by their first Ligue 1 title. The fans were enamored not just by his goals but by his style of play. Pape would leave PSG in 1991 for a final year at Red Star Saint-Ouen.
In 2010 he was voted PSG’s greatest ever player, in 2012 Ligue 1 greatest ever foreign player. As Darko Pančev on said:
For me he’s unsurpassable, the best Yugoslavia had. Probably one of the best in the world. I was often known to say that us other players should have to pay to play in the same team as Pape. At least I always talked and thought like that. Pape was a treasure for every forward. A wonderful player.
GREATEST SQUAD – STARTING XI [4-3-3]
JOSIP KATALINKSI ENZER HADŽIABDIĆ
MIRSAD FAZLAGIĆ DŽMAL HADŽIABDIĆ
MEHMED BAŽDAREVIĆ BLAŽ SLIŠKOVIĆ
HASAN SALIHAMIDŽIĆ ALEKSANDAR RISTIĆ
GREATEST SQUAD – RESERVES
GK: ENVER MARIĆ
GK: FAHRIJA DAUTBEGOVIĆ
RB: SVETOZAR VUJOVIĆ
LB: SAŠA PAPAC
CB: MIRSAD HIBIĆ
CB: FARUK HADŽIBEGIĆ
CM: JUSUF HATUNIĆ
CM: EDHEM ŠLIJVO
AM: IVICA OSIM
RF: VAHID HALIHODŽIC
CF: VAHIDIN MUSEMIĆ
ST: ZLATKO VUJOVIĆ
Created by Alan Robins Images by Jorge Manuel Martins